Door number 5 behind the Cognac Advent Calendar by Drinks by the Dram reveals the Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne Congnac bottled at 40%. I am just starting to learn more about cognacs and browsing the internet trying to find information on the process and used classifications. On that last one I have found something that I copied below my tasting note. Maybe it will shed some light on the differences that are out there. In one of my earlier cognac notes from this calendar I also posted a map with the different crus. If you have any information that could help me to understand Cognac better please let me know.
On the nose I find soft notes of nuts, jasmine, lemon, oranges, spices, pear, fudge, powdered sugar, vanilla, hint of tobacco leaf and camomile. The palate is just like that, filled with loads of sweet soft and creamy notes. Many fruit and candy like flavours appear on the palate making it almost toffee sweet on the teeth with a medium length finish. An enjoyable cognac for sure, thanks for sharing it Drinks by the Dram!
According to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BINC), the official quality grades of cognac are the following:
- V.S. (“very special”) or ✯✯✯ (three stars) designates a blend in which the youngest brandy has been stored for at least two years in cask.
- V.S.O.P. (“very superior old pale”) or Reserve designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least four years in a cask.
- XO (“extra old”) or Napoléon designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least six years. In 2016, the minimum storage age of the youngest brandy used in an XO blend will be set to ten years.
- Hors d’âge (“beyond age”) is a designation which BNIC states is equal to XO, but in practice the term is used by producers to market a high-quality product beyond the official age scale.
The tightly defined crus, or geographic denominations where the grapes are grown, with their distinctive soils and microclimates (perhaps atypical of the larger region), can also be used to classify the cognac, as these factors can produce eaux de vie with characteristics particular to their specific location.
- Grande Champagne (13,766 hectares (34,020 acres)) Grande Champagne eaux de vie are long in the mouth and powerful, dominated by floral notes.”Champagne” derives from the Roman “Campania” meaning the southern region of Italy considered the countryside of Rome, but is often explained with similarity in soil with the Champagne area at Reims. The soils in Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne are characterized as shallow clay-limestone, over limestone and chalk.
- Petite Champagne (16,171 hectares (39,960 acres)) Petite Champagne eaux de vie have similar characteristics to those from Grande Champagne but are in general shorter on the palate. Cognacs made from a mixture of Grande and Petite Champagne eaux de vie (with at least 50% Grande Champagne) may be marketed as “Fine Champagne”.
- Borderies (4,160 hectares (10,300 acres)) The smallest cru, eaux de vie from the Borderies are the most distinctive, with nutty aromas and flavor, as well as a distinct violet or iris characteristic. This denomination’s soil contains clay and flint stones resulting from the decomposition of limestone.
- Fins Bois (34,265 hectares (84,670 acres)) Heavier and faster aging eaux de vie ideal for establishing the base of some blended cognacs. Fins Bois is rounded and fruity, with an oiliness. The soils here are predominantly red clay-limestone and very stony, or otherwise heavy clay soils.
- Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires (together 19,979 hectares (49,370 acres)). Further out from the four central growth areas are these two growing regions. With a poorer soil and very much influenced by the maritime climate, this area of 20,000 hectares produces eaux de vie that are less demonstrative and age more quickly.
- Bois à terroirs
- The soils of Les Bois (Bons Bois, Bois Ordinaires, and Bois à terroirs) are sandy, spanning coastal areas and some valleys.